When planning a house, I believe it’s important to leave yourself options. Leave spaces as… space. Open. Undefined. Live there for a while. See where life takes you. Dream of the future, but don’t immediately confine yourself with walls.
Take, for example, our upstairs dormer window. Dormers create headroom and windows where there would otherwise be low, sloped ceilings. This one is eight feet of bright, beautiful space at the top of our stairs.
Our designer originally labelled it a bathroom. It was too nice to be used less than an hour a day and we instead crammed the bathroom into a corner, under the sloped ceiling. While the designer diligently labelled it “office,” the dormer would remain space. We put two big chairs in it and as people climb upstairs, the first thing they often say is, “What a nice space!”
It’s not that we didn’t have plans for the space; they were just evolving. I imagined myself doing yoga there, morning sun pouring through the east-facing windows. It would also make a nice workspace. Or, it could be another small bedroom, we’d tell friends with a wink and a nudge.
When I found out late in 2013 that I was pregnant, I have to admit that I grieved a little for my yoga space. But I soon began planning the wall that would turn that dormer into a nursery. I began thinking about what colour I would paint the room.
Being pregnant reminded me of my one experience paragliding. I had to suspend rational thought and remind myself of all the people who had done it before me and survived—some even appeared to enjoy it. As the ground drops away beneath your feet, you know there’s no turning back and you’re in for one heck of a ride.
Over your shoulder, you wave a fond farewell to the space that you held for yoga—among other things.
And then, suddenly, as if that flight had been a dream, I wasn’t pregnant anymore. The imagined wall crumbled. I stopped thinking about colour. The space inside me felt immense and I wanted nothing more than to throw myself over the parenting precipice.
I let a friend whisk me off to Mexico for yoga teacher training and I learned to sit with uncertainty. I practised not making plans. I practised just making space.
It was well into 2014 (shortly after we moved into the house) when I learned I was pregnant again, and this time was different. I no longer grieved what I was giving up and fully embraced where I was headed. I also recognized the impermanence of my situation and knew I would be fine, whatever the outcome.
Finally, I found gratitude for my loss. The author of this blog post nails it when she says, “It’s almost as if I had to endure the heartache before I could comprehend how big of a blessing bringing a child into this world really was.”
When I entered 2014 pregnant, I never thought I would also end it pregnant. (For the record, that’s two consecutive Christmases without mulled wine and two New Year’s Eves toasting with ginger ale.) But over the past year, I learned that double lines on a pregnancy test don’t necessarily equal a baby. Nothing is for certain.
Architects talk about needing to steer their clients toward the lives they actually live, rather than the ones they envision. For example, you might think you want a home gym in your new house, but perhaps you’d make better use of a family room. In my opinion, the same goes for spaces filled with unfinished projects.
So, create the space, but don’t clutter it with plans and expectations. Let it define itself. Then occupy it, fully and completely.